Lack of Technology Proficiency Raises Concerns Beyond Just Competence

We have previously posted entries about the relatively new comment 8 to Rule 1.1, which requires lawyers to keep abreast of changes in relevant technology that affects the practice of law.

A new ABA article by a New York attorney discusses the possibility that failure to stay current with technological changes can lead to concerns under not only Rule 1.1 (competence), but also Rule 1.5 (excessive fees).

The author, Ivy Grey, points out that the obligation to stay current with technology applies not only to data security and e-discovery platforms, but also to more basic systems like document management systems, billing software, email, and MS Word. Grey’s basic point is that lawyers who don’t know how to properly use these tools run the risk of spending too much time messing around with technology, and billing their clients for lack of technological skill rather than high powered legal analysis.

The article calls to mind the now famous “legal technology audit” created and administered by Casey Flaherty of Kia Motors. Flaherty found that lawyers were embarrassingly incompetent with even routine technological tasks, such as formatting a motion in Word.

Whether disciplinary authorities across the country will sanction lawyers for overbilling that results from technological incompetence remains to be seen. But Grey’s advice is sound: keep up with technology.